A New Voice in American Literature

‘There are certain things he told me. Not just things like don’t get into cars with strangers. But more subtle things. For example, if you hear the water running after dark, don’t go outside; they’ll cut your water line to make you come outside.Or if you hear a baby crying. They will do that, too. The very same thing. To bring a woman out. A girl. “They will go out to that,” he said. Can you imagine? What if you heard that crying out there in the dark? Not even thinking of the danger— just the emptiness of that. In every sense. No parenthetical attribution there, for sure. No hope at all. Do not go out. That child is lost. Like running water. Irretrievable. Like the wind and smoke and threat of “re and everything. You can’t do any good.’

Shame and Wonder by David Searcy

Shame and Wonder by David Searcy

Like dispatches from another world, the twenty-one essays in David Searcy’s debut collection Shame and Wonder are unfamiliar, profound and haunting.

In his late sixties, the Texan author David Searcy became drawn to non-fiction, writing ‘straight-up’, on note pad and manual typewriter, a series of disparate thoughts and interests. These unframed apprehensions, as he called them – of forgotten baseball fields,  childhood dreams of space travel, the bedtime stories he’d invent for his young children – evolved into a sequence of extraordinary essays probing the pivots and pathways of his life, and puzzling out what they might mean.

Expansive in scope, but deeply personal in their perspective, the pieces in Shame and Wonder forge beautiful connections that make the everyday seem almost extraterrestrial, creating intricate and glittering constellations of words and ideas. Radiant and strange and suffused with longing, this collection is a work of true grace, wisdom and joy.


Praise for Shame and Wonder

‘Strange, wonderful, and full of curiosity and nostalgia, David Searcy’s essays chip away at the world around us to lay bare the beauty and sadness at the heart of it all.’
Gay Talese

‘A work of genius. If you want to know things, real things, read Shame and Wonder. It will knock you flat and lift you up.’
Ben Fountain

‘We can hear something here, something achieved and distinctive. A writer has figured out how to bring the style of his prose into near-perfect alignment with his habit of mind.’
John Jeremiah Sullivan

‘I will keep thinking about the inquisitive intelligence of this book for the rest of my life.’ Leslie Jamieson

‘Astonishing. The fact that Searcy is an idiosyncratic writer can be seen by the first page of any one of his essays, the fact that he’s a great writer by the last.’
Rabih Alameddine

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Windmill is the online home of literary publishers Windmill Books, William Heinemann and Hutchinson. Part of Penguin Random House UK.